I say I’m going to do it every year (*cough*andneverdo*cough*), but I”m actually going to read all five shortlisted books for the Giller this year. Given that there are exactly five weeks between the release of the shortlist and the announcement of the winner, it seems like the sort of thing this blog was created for.
Before the shortlist is announced this Monday, I thought it might be fun to try to predict what the five novels will be. I’ve no doubt in my mind that I will be woefully incorrect (mostly because I’m largely picking the five books I hope are shortlisted), but half the fun’s in playing, anyway.
Keep in mind, I haven’t read a word of any of these books. Clearly, I’m qualified to judge them on their literary merit.
So without further ado, here’s what I
hope think will go down when the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist is announced on Monday, October 5.
The (Supposed) Finalists
Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt
DeWitt is fast becoming a media darling, and I find it hard to believe that name recognition/prestige doesn’t at least play a small role in the nominations. His last book, The Sisters Brothers, was shortlisted for the 2011 Giller, and that means he’ll be nominated again because the Giller loves to continually pump the tires of any author who has even a modicum of success outside our native land. Also, the book sounds pretty cool.
Result: WRONG. Dewitt didn’t make the cut. Instead, the jury selected Martin John by Anakana Schofield.
Daydreams of Angels by Heather O’Neill
There’s almost always a short story collection on the shortlist, and O’Neill’s seems the most compelling by a country mile. I mean, how can you not love a story called “The Robot Baby,” in which a robot feels emotion for the very first time. Or “Dolls,” in which a little girl’s forgotten dolls tell their stories of woe and neglect. It’s like a literary Toy Story. The other short story collections from the longlist–Arvida and Confidence–don’t seem to have the head of steam this book does.
Outline by Rachel Cusk
Outline sounds like a reader’s (and writer’s) dream: “Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during an oppressively hot summer in Athens.” Plus, the New York Times review is too good for the panel to ignore: “Lethally intelligent … spend much time with this novel and you’ll become convinced that (Cusk) is one of the smartest writers alive.” Yeah. Try competing with that.
All True Not a Lie In It by Alix Hawley
This may be the book I’m most intrigued by. I get the feeling I’m either really going to dig it or it will just not work for me on any level. Either way, that’s a pretty cool author name. Cards on the table, I basically don’t know anything about Daniel Boone. He was a pioneer, wore baller hats, and that’s about all I know. Hopefully prior knowledge of Boone’s life isn’t a prerequisite for enjoying this.
Result: WRONG. In a shocker (to me), Arvida by Samuel Archibald made the shortlist. Two short story collections out of the five books. What the!
Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
This one’s on my list purely based on the opinions of my friends. Kirt and Tania from Writereads, and Laura from Reading in Bed, all loved it. 5 out of 5 stars. Plus, I love the idea of putting a novella on the shortlist (if you’re familiar with my past blogging, you’ll know that I have a soft spot for the novella … stay tuned for an event around this in November). And the idea is just so whacked that I think it’s going to stand out from the pack: Apollo wages Hermes that, given intelligence, animals would be even more unhappy than humans are. So a group of fifteen dogs from a Toronto vet clinic are given human consciousness to find out. Like, what?
The Ones That Just Missed the Cut
If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie
Initially, this was on my list, but I’ve heard such differing opinions about If I Fall, If I Die that I wouldn’t be shocked if the panel is split on its merit as well. But if it makes the list, I wouldn’t be surprised either. This book has gotten a fair amount of buzz. Maybe the most of any book on the longlist, actually.
Close to Hugh by Marina Endicott
Like DeWitt, Endicott has been on the Giller’s radar before, for her novel Good to a Fault. So she’s going to get a long look. Close to Hugh just doesn’t seem all that original to me, despite the fact that the Globe and Mail called it “Oddly original and charming.” I just don’t get the feeling the Giller rewards novels about the journey of the Everywoman or Everyman.